CHRISTO

Meet Christo, a university student ( / fashion designer / PR / event manager / sales assistant / whatever other dreams he’s working on) from Greece who grew up in Berlin. When he’s not busy studying, venue hunting, or planning a catwalk he’s dreaming about making an impact on the fashion industry and finding ways to change the mindsets of those who are in it.

How did you end up in Berlin?

Well, I am an original Berliner and at the same time original Greek. It’s a bit confusing because in Greece I feel like a Berliner and in Berlin I feel like a Greek. Just like Hannah Montana (laughs). But in all honesty, I grew up super Greek here in Berlin. I went to a Greek school, Greek church, Greek everything. Even as a kid, I always dreamt of moving away because I felt trapped in all my Greekness. (pause) I do love you mama!!! (laughs loud)

So did you ever move away?

Yes, I was 15. Way too late, in my opinion (chuckles). I left for America to do a year in high school there and it was a life changing experience. At first, I enjoyed what I had expected: the adrenaline rush of a new culture. But then, something else happened, something I did not expect. I was confronted by what I believed, my religion, my mindset. I realised my upbringing had given me a system to believe in but what I found in America was far more than just a set of rules. Suddenly, I found myself exploring this relationship with a God who actually did stuff in my life, like, all over the place. Very messily but in a good way.

What happened when you came back?

I knew something had changed at the very core of me. So the question was, would I continue what had started in me? I guess, coming back to a familiar place puts you in this strange situation, this tension. Do you go back to the old or keep running with the new? It would have been so easy to just go back to the old Christo. But it just didn’t fit right anymore.

How did you end up in Berlin?

Well, I am an original Berliner and at the same time original Greek. It’s a bit confusing because in Greece I feel like a Berliner and in Berlin I feel like a Greek. Just like Hannah Montana (laughs). But in all honesty, I grew up super Greek here in Berlin. I went to a Greek school, Greek church, Greek everything. Even as a kid, I always dreamt of moving away because I felt trapped in all my Greekness. (pause) I do love you mama!!! (laughs loud)

So did you ever move away?

Yes, I was 15. Way too late, in my opinion (chuckles). I left for America to do a year in high school there and it was a life changing experience. At first, I enjoyed what I had expected: the adrenaline rush of a new culture. But then, something else happened, something I did not expect. I was confronted by what I believed, my religion, my mindset. I realised my upbringing had given me a system to believe in but what I found in America was far more than just a set of rules. Suddenly, I found myself exploring this relationship with a God who actually did stuff in my life, like, all over the place. Very messily but in a good way.

What happened when you came back?

I knew something had changed at the very core of me. So the question was, would I continue what had started in me? I guess, coming back to a familiar place puts you in this strange situation, this tension. Do you go back to the old or keep running with the new? It would have been so easy to just go back to the old Christo. But it just didn’t fit right anymore.

Why? What had changed?

Well what was surprising was that this new perspective I had, this new Christo I had become, began to see Berlin differently. Suddenly it wasn’t the place where I felt trapped and needed to escape but actually became a place full of opportunities and potential. I guess the biggest realisation was that I don’t need to leave Berlin to find big things, they are right here in front of me. It all depends on your mindset, your perspective and the environment you plant yourself in.

What’s your biggest dream?

My biggest dream right now is to get through my studies, like every well-behaved student (laughs). Actually, the truth is that fashion really is one of my biggest passions in life. I’ve always loved it. But bigger than fashion is my passion for people, so I’ve decided to try to connect the two.

How do you want to do that?

Obviously people wear fashion. But what if fashion in itself is not the end goal but the people in it? What we read between the lines or what happens, let’s say before or after a fashion show, is where the real treasures lie. My dream isn’t for the fashion to be in the spotlight. Instead I want to use it to develop people, especially the next generation, give them vision and help them realise their dreams. I want fashion to highlight people’s unique stories and ultimately place value on their lives. That’s why I’ve got involved in a fashion show this Easter at my church. It’s called Garments of Revival and it’s all about placing value on people through telling a redemptive story.

Why? What had changed?

Well what was surprising was that this new perspective I had, this new Christo I had become, began to see Berlin differently. Suddenly it wasn’t the place where I felt trapped and needed to escape but actually became a place full of opportunities and potential. I guess the biggest realisation was that I don’t need to leave Berlin to find big things, they are right here in front of me. It all depends on your mindset, your perspective and the environment you plant yourself in.

What’s your biggest dream?

My biggest dream right now is to get through my studies, like every well-behaved student (laughs). Actually, the truth is that fashion really is one of my biggest passions in life. I’ve always loved it. But bigger than fashion is my passion for people, so I’ve decided to try to connect the two.

How do you want to do that?

Obviously people wear fashion. But what if fashion in itself is not the end goal but the people in it? What we read between the lines or what happens, let’s say before or after a fashion show, is where the real treasures lie. My dream isn’t for the fashion to be in the spotlight. Instead I want to use it to develop people, especially the next generation, give them vision and help them realise their dreams. I want fashion to highlight people’s unique stories and ultimately place value on their lives. That’s why I’ve got involved in a fashion show this Easter at my church. It’s called Garments of Revival and it’s all about placing value on people through telling a redemptive story.

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

I am 19. I started university, and yes I am still young but I can already feel the pressures of life hitting me hard. I get to travel around the globe for fashion weeks, meet people, put on my own catwalks. But at the same time, I’ve got a job on the side to earn money and I kinda need to study too! (laughs). It’s survival of the fittest. Basically, I am the kind of guy who crosses red lights multi-tasking on his phone and when you ask me how my week is going I rarely seem to have a normal one.

On a more serious note though, I’ve been asking myself: ‘Why am I doing what I am doing?’ And the really honest answer to that question would be: I think I often get busy just to prove that I am good enough.

Who inspires you?

Mary Katrantzou. She’s a Greek fashion designer based in London and the reason why I became interested in fashion. She is a genius at what she does and I want to learn from her. Not only is she the queen of prints, but she dreamt a dream and made it happen. She is proof that with the right mindset, hard work and challenges can be friends and not enemies to your future. She’s shown me that not just dreaming but actually chasing your dreams can take you further than you could ever imagine.

I actually got to meet her last year – through her greek parents! (laughs) I got invited to attend her show in London and met her parents there. They basically pretended I was their nephew and took me backstage so I could meet her. It was a dream come true.

What’s your personal connection to Easter?

Easter used to be about a duty, something I had to do because of my Greek background. But then I discovered that Easter is actually an act of love. And love, well, love is a real cheerleader! And so is God. That’s something that has encouraged me. Especially because I used to feel that people would tell me off whenever I expressed another crazy idea or dream, telling me I was too young, too this, too that. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. But now I feel as though I always have someone cheering me on, not for what I’m doing but simply for who I am. And that’s pretty cool.

What does unfinished story mean to you?

A story being unfinished to me means potential. It means that obstacles we often call our enemy are not so if we choose to use them to make us stronger. Yes, my past and my present might influence my future but do not determine it. Unfinished story means there’s more to come – more opportunities, second chances and most of all: not a dead end.

And finally Christo, what would you tell your 16 year old self?

Well, that was only 3 years ago! Ask me again in 10 years (laughs). I’m still on the journey to figuring stuff out. But life is an #unfinishedstory for sure!

Thanks, Christo!